national Arts Festival Banner

Saturday, March 1, 2014


(Clinton Philander, Simone Mann, Josh Philander, Angela Val Verde & Graeme Wicks)

Fast-moving list of much-loved numbers in entertaining show led by Clinton Philander. (Review by Caroline Smart)

What a delight to see Clinton Philander firmly based back in Durban, creating his own show and supporting rising talent, including his own son.

Currently running at the Heritage Theatre in Hillcrest, The Stars Are Out Tonight features a lively and energetic cast. The stage is bare apart from a glamorous well-lit curtain upstage above a set of steps. As Philander explains, the aim is to recall the old days of cabaret where the focus was on the performers and the numbers they sang.

It’s a popular choice as those around me were beaming with pleasure at the fast-moving list of much-loved numbers from musical legends such as Liza Minnelli, Robbie Williams, Tina Turner, The Beach Boys, Kenny Rogers, Bob Marley, Robin Thicke, Avici, Michael BublĂ©, Bette Midler, Kim Carnes, Chris De Burgh and Elton John many more.  By the end of the show, the audience needed no encouragement to get up and dance.

Being his usual irresistibly genial and engaging self, Philander revives many of his alter egos that have marked a long and impressive career, the last 11 years having been on the Barnyard circuit.

Graeme Wicks impresses with his dancing ability and was undeniably the crowd favourite with his Sweet Transvestite. Ultra-slim Simone Mann gives style and panache to her numbers while Angela Val Verde pulls out all the stops with Proud Mary. Looking very much like his dad, Josh Philander accompanied himself on the acoustic guitar with a poignant rendition of Hero.

The non-stop musical line-up takes in Jamaican and Mexican medleys suitably costumed and accompanied by much humourous banter. Their rendition of From a Distance in the finale was very moving.

All except for two songs, the numbers are performed to backing tracks and the sound balance was not good. This wasn’t helped by Val Verde who has a tendency to shout which negates the value of the lyrics. I would also have liked to have seen more stylish exits after some of the numbers otherwise it tends to look like a concert.

My partner and I enjoyed our menu choices which were enjoyable and well-presented. We both opted for the Summer Salad, an island of watermelon, feta cheese and nuts, and Cranberry Baked Chicken Fillet. The rest of the Starters include Soup of the Day and Heritage Antipasto and on the Main, there’s Penne Pasta, Oven Baked  Fish and Natal Mutton Curry.

The show runs at the Heritage Theatre until March 9. Tickets R185 Tuesday dinner and Sunday lunch and R215 Wednesday to Saturday include a two-course meal. Booking is essential on 031 765 4197 or online at

The Heritage Theatre is situated in Hillcrest Heritage Market. There is safe parking in the undercover area which has direct access to the theatre. The drive up to Hillcrest was a pleasure with good road markings and cats’ eyes. The road back down Fields Hill was a different story and needs attention urgently. Drive with care! – Caroline Smart